Arizona football doomed by immaturity
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
UofA loss to Stanford Saturday, September 17, 2011 at Arizona Stadium
For the Arizona football team, it was the same old story on Saturday against No. 5 Stanford.
The Wildcats suffered another lopsided loss, this time 37-10, making it seven straight games without a win against an FBS team.
Arizona’s first Pac-12 Conference contest was another game with dismal rushing output, and most glaringly of all, another contest marred with debilitating mental mistakes from Arizona.
“We’re young in a lot of areas, and our maturity shows up against good football teams,” head coach Mike Stoops said. “I don’t know what else to tell you. That’s part of the growing pains you go through.”
Heisman Trophy frontrunner Andrew Luck burned the Arizona secondary for 325 yards on 20-of-31 passing. Luck wasn’t as sharp as usual but found a wide-open receiver on several plays — including both of his touchdowns.
Luck wasn’t the only Cardinal player to put up big numbers. Running back Stepfan Taylor ran for a career-high 153 yards, 71 of which came on two long runs.
Giving up big plays is something that has plagued the Arizona defense through three games in 2011, something that cornerback Trevin Wade said can be traced back to the Wildcats’ youth and inexperience.
“You’ve got to read your keys,” Wade said. “Just like driving. If you see a red stop sign, stop. Don’t go. When you get one person that don’t read their keys, you saw what happens.”
Sophomore safety Marquis Flowers admittedly contributed to blown coverages, something that stems from little experience playing a team like Stanford that uses different formations and motion to create mismatches.
“They start shuffling around, guys start losing guys,” Flowers said. “Me included. We start losing a running back. Some of us didn’t know who we had. They do a great job of trying to confuse a defense and they had wide open receivers because of it.”
But both Flowers and Wade said that Stanford didn’t do anything different than Arizona expected after watching film on the Cardinal.
“It was all the exact same,” Wade said. “Everything’s the exact same.”
After the Arizona defense held its own in the first half — the Wildcats trailed 16-10 at halftime — the offense wasn’t able to hold up its end of the bargain.
Kicker Jaime Salazar connected on his first field goal of the day, a 27-yarder, but missed on his next two attempts. Had Salazar been able to hit on the two misses, which came from 45 and 36 yards, the Wildcats would have been tied at the break.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get points when you play a team like Stanford,” Stoops said. “You don’t get any points, and that deflates your football team.”
A more mature team may have been able to shake off any disappointment stemming from those missed opportunities, but the Wildcats weren’t able to gather themselves for the second half.
“With our team, we have to do things right,” Stoops said. “You get exposed sometimes when you play top teams. Hopefully we’ll be better because of it.”